Media Release 3 November 2010
Sed quis custodiet ipsos Custodes?
The Minister of Police, Mr E.N. Mthethwa MP has reported back to the nation on the outcome of the assessment he requested the Civilian Secretariat for Police to do with respect to the implementation of the Firearms Control Act, 2000.
Gun Owners of South Africa were invited to make submissions to an inquiry into the functioning of the South African Police Service's Central Firearms Registry.
Given the unfortunate predicament the CFR found itself in GOSA was simply of the opinion that an internal inquiry or task team approach would not be sufficient to instill lost confidence in the spectacular failure in implementation of the Firearms Control Act.
Were this issue to be faced by any other department or organ of State, we said, the correct approach would be to appoint an outside body which is above reproach to conduct a detailed forensic audit of the Act and the implementation thereof. According to S181 of our Constitution the Auditor-General is that impartial body.
The Minister's report-back, whilst very honest and open, is a litany of disaster, mismanagement and chaos at the Firearm registry. It is clear that billions have been poured into the Black Hole that is the Central Firearms Register. With no visible impact on crime -- inconceivable given that the FCA is still touted as a crime-fighting measure.
Money just keeps on disappearing in it. Now, the Minister wants us to give the Central Firearms Register another shot at sorting out the mess of their creation - with a few minor face-changes.
Send more good money after bad.
The Minister is not going to scrap relicensing. He is not going to scrap renewals. He is fully committed to making the FCA work. The Minister still thinks with a few minor tweaks the CFR can implement the Act properly and efficiently.
It is clear every aspect of implementation of the Act is collapsing. There are 5 year backlogs in renewals and three year backlogs in new licence applications. The database is hopelessly corrupted, the hugely expensive software cannot fulfill the most basic data-retrieval tasks, the staff turnover especially of qualified people is immensely high due to poor staff morale at having to continually shovel out the Augean stables, so-called call-centre staff cannot even access the renewal system so everyone who has called in over the last couple of years to be told their renewals are in progress has been held for a fool.... That's fraud, Mr Minister!
We told you so, Minister!
We call on the Minister to release the report immediately. Taxpayers have a right to know how chaotic affairs are at the Central Firearms Register.
GOSA warned the Minister that the Canadian Long-gun Registry upon which the FCA is based was an expensive failure. Every Rand poured into the CFR is diverted from effective policing on the ground or maintenance of a rural police station.
Gun Owners of South Africa are on record demanding that the licence renewal process be suspended until the police service is in a position to complete the gun license renewal applications they have. We were ignored. Now we call on the Minister of Police to scrap the Act. The FCA has to be abandoned, urgently, as happened to its Canadian (Long Gun Registry) blueprint.
The question is how many more billions the Minister is prepared to pour into the implementation of an unimplementable Act to save face?
The FCA was enacted in 2000. Implementation started in 2004. The second round of gun license renewals should have started, again, by now.
We warned that the SAPS would not be able to assume the administrative burden when this Act was before Parliament as a Bill.
From the Minister and the task team's own admission, this Act is a disaster, unimplementable. The SAPS have consistently denied there is a problem at the Central Firearms Register. Now we are expected to trust them again.
The lion's share of the blame should be apportioned to the Auditor-General. He has shamefully ignored his responsibilities.
He should have intervened long ago. All the replies by Minister for Safety and Security Charles Nqakula to parliamentary questions about the renewal of gun licences disclosed that the hideously costly implementation of the Firearms Control Act has degenerated into a disgraceful sham.The shambolic state of the CFR is also a by-product of a complete lack of parliamentary oversight.
It is a sad indictment of government, our legislators in Parliament - across party lines - and our Chapter 9 institutions, who have all failed our Constitution.
Eighteen months ago the Pretoria High Court stayed prosecution of gunowners who refused to comply with the unconstitutional Firearms Control Act. Before that, gunowners had faced a massive intimidation campaign that included threats via the media of 15 years imprisonment of gunowners who did not renew gun licences.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa's Department has had 18 months to sort out the chaotic implementation of the Firearms Control Act. Indeed, one would have expected that by now the maladministration of the Firearms Register had been rectified and the 5-year renewal backlogs wiped out. That is what the Head of the Central Firearms Register promised us on 'Fokus met Freek'.
Sadly, that has not been the case. Minister Nathi Mthethwa is now telling us he wants to start again and promises that this time, he will do it right.
In other words: Another blank cheque.
Minister Mthethwa, the country needs to know how much this Act has cost them. First tell us that, if you want the SAPS to regain our trust.
Gun Owners of South Africa